In 2017, Congress slyly opened up the coastal plains of the Arctic Refuge to oil and gas drilling under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Aside from the fact that high income families and major corporations were the ones to benefit the most from this act, it also includes Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) Provisions.
Under these provisions, the Oil and Gas Program was established, “P.L. 115-97 directs the Secretary of the Interior, acting through the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), to establish and administer a competitive program for the leasing, development, production, and transportation of oil and gas in and from ANWR’s Coastal Plain.”
After years of tearing down forests and dredging up the earth, we only have a few pieces of natural land left, and thanks to Trump and his administration, that may be destroyed too.
Why do we need to protect this land?
This land consists of nearly 19 million acres of wilderness in Northeast Alaska, just off the border of Canada. It’s the most pristine forest in the country, and the last to be affected by human interference. Not only is it home to polar bears, caribou, and other precious animal species, but it’s also sacred to the Indigenous Gwich’in people.
According to the Gwich’in Steering Committee, the Gwich’in people are a part of the Athapaskans and make up 15 communities across the Yukon, Alaska, and the border of Canada. They regard the coastal plains of the Arctic Refuge as “The Sacred Place Where Life Begins”, because of its significance to the Porcupine Caribou.
Every year between May and June, the Caribou herd migrates to this region to give birth to and nurse nearly 40,000 calves, which is why the Gwich’in people gave the coastal plains its name. The Gwich’in have come to depend heavily on the caribou for food, clothing, tools, and spiritual guidance, while respecting the animal’s existence.
Trump’s plan to exploit this land will cause irreparable damage to the wildlife, landscape, and Indigenous people who depend on it. Despite the major environmental impact, the BLM and government officials are in a race to start seismic testing. According the Center of Biological Diversity, this is the unforgivable act of blasting the seafloor to map out oil and gas reserves, killing marine life and leaving long lasting environmental damage.
His administration isn’t leaving much room to fight this unjust plan against mother nature and the Gwich’in people, but we have to do everything we can to fight this monstrosity.
What you can do:
The NRDC has set up a link to write to President Trump and Internal Secretary Bernhardt, asking to halt plans to drill for oil and gas. The organization also has a link to write to your state senators to support the Arctic Refuge Protection Act, which will stop Trump’s plan.
Use these resources, reach out to government officials, and spread awareness to your friends and family, because the time is running out.